The play follows the life of a girl, Celie (Adrianna Hicks), who suffers emotional, physical and sexual abuse — first by her father, Alphonso, and then by her husband, Mister (Gavin Gregory) — while growing up in Georgia during the early and mid-20th century. The tale of Celie’s transcendence is forwarded by 28 musical numbers that feature a mix of jazz, blues, gospel and ragtime.
The film adaption, starring Whoopie Goldberg and directed by Steven Spielberg, was released in 1985 to popular and critical acclaim, garnering 11 Academy Award nominations from which it controversially won zero.
The first stage adaption ran on Broadway from December 2005 to February 2008. It was produced by now-disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, along with Oprah Winfrey, Quincey Jones and Scott Sanders. That production received 11 Tony Award nominations in 2006, winning one for best performance by a lead actress in a musical garnered by LaChanze.
The current revival began its run in 2015 and featured Jennifer Hudson in the role of Shug Avery, Celie’s ally and the object of Mister’s affection. Cynthia Enviro reprized the role of Celie, which she played in a 2013 London production.
“(Producer) Scott Sanders and I developed a very close working relationship, and he was very attentive to my feelings about certain things that were left out of the movie,” Walker told The Huffington Post in 2015, just prior to the revival’s opening.
“For instance, I always wanted Mister to be included in the family toward the end of the play, as he was not at the end of the movie. And so, they restored that reintegration of him into the fabric of the play.”
She said she wants the work to stand as a cultural touchstone, particularly for African-Americans.
“I want it to stand as an expression of the possibility of our absolute freedom,” she said. “And especially our spiritual freedom. Because, until the spirit is free, it’s very hard to free any other part. And we desperately need to be freed from so many shackles.”
The Color Purple runs approximately 150 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission. Following the Las Vegas shows, the tour will travel to San Francisco for performances May 1-27 and Los Angeles, May 29 through June 17.